this is "nightline." >> tonight, the bizarre and riveting story of two teenage girls who walked out of their house one night, disappearing for years. tonight how two sisters vanished. did their parents' bitter he said, she said divorce cause them to run? or were they hidden by their mother, trying to protect them from their father? spring cleaning queen. maria condo, the woman who started the wildly popular declutter phrase, her videos of folding laundry going viral. the master of tidy says it's all about jewelry. prince william and duchess kitt leaving the kids and following in his mother's footsteps as the royals trek to india. what pass statement might the duchess of cambridge make at the
taj mahal. but first the "nightline 5." >> hey, need fast heartburn relief? try cool mint zantac. it releases a cooling sensation in your mouth and throat. zan contact works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. cool mint zantac. hurry to jcpenney spring sale with door busters starting friday at 3:00 p.m. $4.99 tees for the family, $14 ] 99 shorts. save an extra 25% off with your jcpenney credit card and coupon. that's getting your penny's worth. >> number
claiming abuse. but the courts unconvinced. where did these sisters go? did their mother have a hand in the disappearance? abc's elizabeth vargas has this twisting tale. >> reporter: it is 7:00 p.m. on a 30-degree april evening in the suburbs of minneapolis. while most families are settling in for dinner, one family is about to fracture forever. when two children living at this home vanish. >> no shoes. no coats. no backpacks. nothing. >> poof. they're gone. >> reporter: 13-year-old jianna and 14-year-old samantha ruckee disappear. the only trace, footprints in the snow. their parents are embroiled in an ugly divorce and custody dispute. but they insist they are united in their desperation for the girls. where did they go? who are they with? and why does our journey begin by asking questions to their mother inside the ramsay county
jail? >> did you have anything to do with your two daughters running away? >> no. >> do you sit here and think, how did this happen? >> clean record, never had a problem. >> here you are in jail on a million dollars' bail, what's going on? >> i have no idea. this shouldn't be what happens in a divorce. >> reporter: this divorce is more like guerilla warfare than legal proceeding. but for every documented grievance in this harrowing tale there is documentation too of the good times. >> look at this! >> reporter: 20 years' worth of home movies featuring both the ruckees in starring roles as an affectionate, feisty couple. and doting, loving parents to their five children. nikko. samantha. jianna. mia. gino. >> sounds like a busy home. >> they're wonderful, my dream. >> reporter: she says despite smiling faces there was a shocking, ugly secret in the family. years of emotional and physical abuse by david.
>> what would he do? >> throw things, hammers, at me. blackize, broken ribs. we had to lock ourselves in the bedroom, we were scared. we didn't know how his behavior was going to be one day to the next. >> reporter: she claims david didn't just target her but went after the children too. >> how often did that happen? >> once is more than enough. it happened a lot. >> reporter: after 20 years of marriage, sandra says she reaches her breaking point and finally files for divorce. she says frightened for her life, she also gets an order of protection against david. and then she calls police on him at least 20 times. claiming he continuously violates it. >> he broke into the house, came running up the stairs, jumped onto the bed that i was at, started choking me, then took a pillow and started suffocating me. >> reporter: the children, now ages 8 to 14, remain in sandra's custody and refuse to even see david. rebuffing all of his attempts to connect. >> it's your dad, call me. i would like you to call me
back. call me. >> reporter: the family court judge, david knutzen, appoints an advocate for the children and several therapists, trying to facilitate a relationship with their father. the children say they don't want one. jianna and samantha make audio recordings to support what their mother says. this is jianna's voice. >> being in the same house with my dad, things were really bad. he was abusive. he had anger issues. he'd always be screaming and yelling. >> reporter: but in a surprising twist, the judge determines that there has been no evidence of abuse. and based on the findings from a psychologist he appointed, that it is sandra who was the real problem here. that the children are showing signs of parental alienation syndrome, meaning the reason the children are adamantly opposed to seeing david is not because he's abused them or their mother, but because sandra has brainwashed them. >> i've never done anything but be there for my children. my kids are my life.
>> reporter: this is where the judge takes a drastic and, for sandra, devastating step. he orders sandra out of the house and all five of her children removed from her custody. david's sister tammy becomes the children's temporary guardian. she moves into the ruckee home to take care of them. but the two oldest ruckee girls, samantha and jianna, are having none of it. on that day the sisters disappear without a trace. >> what was your reaction? >> what any mother's reaction would be. i'm concerned, i'm worried. everything was going through my mind. >> reporter: when sandra's ex-husband david finds out his daughters have disappeared, he is terrified. >> what was your biggest fear? >> i mean -- these are young girls. you don't want them hitchhiking. we live about i a truck stop. you think of terrible scenarios. >> have you ever raised a hand against sandra or your children? >> no. >> have you ever struck them? >> no. >> have you ever physically abused them in any way? >> no. >> reporter: david begins to suspect sandra knows more than she's saying about their missing
daughters. >> did you think she might have something to do with this? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: one month after the girls' disappearance, there is a bizarre twist in the story. they show up. but in a place no one expects. >> the ruckee girls say they want to be heard -- >> reporter: on local television. they met with us at a hotel, we don't know who brought them here. >> reporter: the local fox 9 station airs this story. and right there, sitting in front of the reporter, are the two missing ruckee sisters. >> i'm just really scared it's going to end really badly. >> glad to see my girls. but what i was hearing coming out of their mouths was hard. >> reporter: as quickly as you can change the channel, the girls are gone again. vanishing back into the night. the search continues for the ruckee girls. their parents' epic divorce drags on. until the judge finally makes his ruling. in a painstaking 60-page order, he drops a bombshell. awarding full custody of all
five children to david, writing of sandra's allegations of abuse that "the court has not received any evidence to support her very serious allegations." for david it is total vindication. but sandra's legal troubles were only about to begin. the search for the two missing girls shifts to one of sandra's staunchest supporters, deedee evavold, an activist who is vocal about what she says is corruption in family courts. detectives search her home and find a cell phone photo of one of the girls on a farm. they trace that photo back to white horse ranch. gina and doug dollen own the ranch which offers 90-minute therapy sessions with their animals. >> our mission is to reach children and families and bring healing at home through animals. >> reporter: they say it was sandra along with deedee who dropped the girls off at the ranch one night with no more than the clothes on their back. then sandra left and never
returned. days turned into months. and then astonishingly, years. was it a secret that the girls were here? >> no, it was not. >> everybody knew they were here. >> reporter: but it all came to an end last november when authorities arrived at doug's front door simply following the trail from deedee's cell phone, not realizing the girls are actually there. when david finally sees the girls for the first time, it is not the reunion he imagined. >> were you nervous? >> i ran out of the room. i started crying. i didn't recognize them. because -- you know, you know your children, you remember what they sound like. you remember how they looked. i didn't recognize my daughters. >> sandra, are you making any comment? >> reporter: sandra is now out of jail, released in february after 130 days behind bars. >> i do appreciate the air and the sun. i'll say that. >> reporter: but she says there was no cause for celebration. >> i'm in a prison without the
bars. what i'm in now. >> reporter: as part of her release, sandra is not permitted to have any contact with samantha and jianna. she is allowed to see her other children with conditions. as for the girls, david says they are happy to be home and doing well and it might surprise you to hear how david sees his family's future. >> will you fight her ability to see the children? >> this is my children's mother. it's important that they have a mother. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm elizabeth vargas in new york. next, meet the woman behind the declutter phenomenon. how she's inspiring converts to keep only what brings them joy. later, everyone's favorite royals head to india. on, and it's hard. i miss out on life's little moments. ♪
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it's just about time for spring cleaning. and tonight we bring you the woman at the center of the ultra-trendy movement to declutter your life. it might seem like a daunting task but the key to tidying up might be as simple as a single question. here's abc's sarah haines. >> reporter: marnie and matt are fighting a losing battle against clutter. >> we have a lot of stuff. but what we have the most of are baby clothes. the babies' clothes are in the dresser and the closet, they're overflowing. the clothes have taken over. >> exactly. >> she's got her priorities straight, it's fine. >> reporter: a family of four, their two-bedroom home is chock
full of baby clothes and loads of hand me downs. >> i could clothe an entire small country. >> some people say it takes a village, you could raise a village. how do you feel when you walk into your home? >> a little chaotic. a little stressed. >> there might be a little anxiety. >> are you ready to get rid of things? >> i am ready. we need to simplify. we need to simplify our things and therefore simplify our life. >> hi, good morning. >> hi. >> reporter: so they've turned to organizing guru marie kando, the queen of clean. with books and viral videos kando has become the face of the declutter movement, helping millions rid their homes of overflow by keeping only the items that spark joy. a professional cleaning consultant by trade, with a three-month waiting list, kando has become a folding phenom. her unique methods spurring viral videos that are irresistible, almost hypnotic. here she is folding undies for
"new york" magazine. shirts for "vogue." a how-to video for all those folding feats. fans obsessed with lighter living calling themselves #konverts, sharing on instagram and twitter. and today the titan of tidy is bringing some of that declutter magic to new york. helping the friedmans find that balance they so desperately desire. step one, marie begins her process by greeting the home. her way of letting the space know she's there to begin tidying up. next, with the help of her translator, we get to work. sorting through clothes and king only the items that spark joy. >> does this spark joy? can you feel the joy? >> yeah. >> don't mind me. get to work, marnie, we've got stuff to do, joy-sparking. >> reporter: kondo suggests thanking clothes you've decided to part with.
>> thank you, really cute sweat pants. thank you, pants we've never worn. >> reporter: once our mountain of kids' clothes has been reduced to a molehill we tackle her most tame miscellaneous organizing trick, the konmari folding method. folding 101, folding clothes in half or thirds, you should end up with a rectangle that stands up by itself, helping save space and stay organized. someone who doesn't need kondo's help, rishma yaku who calls herself a compulsive declutterer. >> clutter is not just paper or objects. it's anything that interferes with your serenity. >> reporter: her maryland home is immaculate despite housing two growing boys. >> one of the things that's really important for me is for the eye to have a place to rest. everywhere there's a thing it takes your energy to look at it, to clean behind it, to manage it. >> reporter: you won't find a coffee table in the living room or photos on the wall. >> i feel like i don't need
photographs to see the people that i love. they're right in front of me. >> reporter: her cupboards are neatly packed. her fridge, tidy in and out. have you ever had that moment where you like reach behind a bunch of things and you're like, oh, man, i really wanted to eat that and now it's gone bad. that just doesn't happen here. >> reporter: in her son zach's room, his trophies are displayed proudly. and one major compromise. >> if it was up to him, every wall in this house and his room would be covered. but we agreed just one wall would have things on it. whatever he wants can go on this wall. so he has put up whatever makes him happy right there. >> your environment should be an expression of who you are. if somebody needs to live in an environment that is completely free of anything, then maybe that's what they need in order to think creatively, in order to get work done. everybody is different. >> reporter: she says her
clutter-freestyle is all part of healthy living, getting rid of the material things to focus on what matters. >> i like to be able to look around my home and not be reminded of 50 things i need to do. all the things i need to do are written on a list where they belong. >> sometimes all our stuff can really drag us down and keep us weighted. and our brain functions better when our surroundings are neat and organized and filled with things that we can feel good about. >> reporter: back at the friedmans our sorting, purging and folding is finally done. items placed neatly in drawers or closets. >> how much easier is it with the standing-up method? so much more fit in the drawer. >> now that you've gotten this figured out does this inspire you to apply it across the house? >> it does. it makes it feel do-able, not daunting. >> reporter: and voila, a kids' room with space enough for all that stuff and the little one too. >> whoa! it's like being at someone else's house. >> reporter: for "nightline,"
i'm sarah haines in new york. up next, prince william and duchess kate follow in his mother's footsteps as they head to india. e*trade is all about seizing opportunity. and i'd like to... cut. so i'm gonna take this opportunity to direct. thank you, we'll call you. evening, film noir, smoke, atmosphere... bob... you're a young farmhand and e*trade is your cow. milk it. e*trade is all about seizing opportunity.
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mr. >> 24 years after his glamorous mother made a memorable visit to the taj mahal, prince william heads to india with his equally glamorous wife kate. here's abc ace lama hasan. >> reporter: all eyes on prince william and kate this weekend as they head to india for a week-long trip. heaving their children at home. >> it's the first time kate has been away from charlotte for any length of time. >> reporter: on tap for the royal couple, an evening with bollywood stars, an up-close look at the world's largest population of endangered rhinoceroses, and a trip to the stunning taj mahal. the trip will undoubtedly evoke memories of the lady princess
diana, famously photographed in front of the taj mahal in 1992. >> william and kate going there is bringing back memories of his mother. he's looking forward to visit that place where he said in his own words his mother's memory is kept alive. >> reporter: wednesday kate gave royal watchers a preview of the sorts of designs she's expected to don throughout the trip. sporting a dress by indian designer saloni at a london reception for guests from indian butan. >> she's taking 30 outfits, we believe. we're going to see her choose designers to pay tribute to her hosts. it's possible she may wear the emerald choker which was a popular piece of jewelry with princess diana that is originally from india. >> reporter: the royal couple are no strangers to international travel. during their five years of marriage, they've journeyed to the u.s., canada, singapore, and in 2014 they famously trekked to australia and new zealand with a young prince george in tow. this time there will be no young